...but satisfied with his Tour
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Paris
Cyclingnews spoke to Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer after the 2005 Tour de France, where he was ticked off to lose his 5th place on GC (effectively €19,000 in prizemoney) to crazy Kazakhi Alexandre Vinokourov, who moved ahead of Levi after gaining 0'20 from the stage win time bonus yesterday in Paris. But Leipheimer, like many riders in the peloton, was informed that because the slippery final circuits of the Champs Elysées were neutralized by the race officials, no time bonuses would be awarded at the finish. "That's what we heard from our team, that the circuits were neutralized and no time bonuses would be awarded. It was a big surprise to me," he said.
Leipheimer was able to damp his disappointment by looking at the big picture as we asked the Santa Rosa, California based pro about his third top 10 finish in the Tour De France. Leipheimer rode a smart race in this year's Tour and when Cyclingnews asked him about how he managed his efforts, he explained, "That's my style of racing. I ride that way just to achieve the highest place and hopefully the day will come when I can ride that way and even do a little bit more. Maybe even win a stage."
We asked Leipheimer what his ambitions are for the 2006 Tour, and he was optimistic. "With the big chief out of the way, the race is a bit more open, but I don't think it's going to be as chaotic as some people are saying. CSC and T-Mobile will have responsibilities and there are always teams that are willing to control the race. So there's that element and you're not going to see somebody win the next Tour because they go away on a flat stage of the Tour and gain a half-hour. That being said, there's now maybe more riders that are capable of winning the Tour. You never know, I could be in that category."